For anyone out there who still thinks “mommy blogging” is all about caring and sharing—I’m a mom, you’re a mom, let’s help each other—it’s time to wake up and smell the freshly minted greenbacks. Yes, diapers, dads, poop and puke are still covered daily in what was once called the “momosphere.” Yet the focus of blogging moms has evolved in recent years to the point that, for many, blogging is no longer a form of expression or community but instead a means to a monetary end.
One of the most discussed topics at mom-focused blogger conferences these days is monetization—specifically, how moms can turn their blogs into bucks. Some of those conversations center on requiring brands to pay bloggers for posting reviews—not something that I support. In fact, building both an audience and credibility by reviewing products or otherwise posting about brands for no charge should be simply the point of entry for mom bloggers who want to be considered for future, profitable business partnerships.
What to do once that baseline has been built and those blogger-brand relationships established? As the social media mom-space matures, companies need to find ways to reward those who support their business. In my point of view, bloggers who regularly provide quality visibility for a client’s brand for free should be recognized whenever possible with other, paid opportunities, as the natural progression of that corporate or agency connection. These can take the form of hiring moms to:
• Serve as brand ambassadors. This term has a number of possible definitions. It can encompass creating a planned, ongoing series of branded blog posts—very different from an occasional mention. Or, it might involve promoting a company at a blogger conference by talking up the brand, and handing out samples and materials.
• Write content for your Web site. Many of these women are bloggers because they write well. If you’re targeting moms, why not enable them to hear from other moms like themselves, against the backdrop of your brand?
• Act as advisers on everything from SEO to Facebook design. Many of these moms are more deeply involved in certain aspects of social media than most PR people will ever be. Consider tapping their expertise.
• Host virtual or live events. Mom bloggers like to connect with other mom bloggers, whether virtually—say, via a Twitter party—or live and in person. They may be more likely to do so if it’s a popular mom blogger inviting them to gather together.
• Participate in advisory boards. What does a mom want? When it comes to your business, why not ask the experts? We did that not long ago via our social media mom Parkbench Panel, for a family-focused Hewlett Packard project. As in that case, the feedback can be surprising and productive.
Of course, when embarking on any such formal relationship, both bloggers and brands must disclose that it is a paid one. For today’s moms are pitching not only for a chance to review your product or take that free trip to Disney World or get invited to that unbelievable event, but also to have companies recognize them in a bottom-line way for what they can achieve for brands.
Not that all mom bloggers are worthy of such recognition, however. Some have difficulty grasping the concept of a post that’s not cut-and-paste, the significance of deadlines, proper grammar or the idea of actually doing what they promise they are going to do (review the product they are sent; attend the event to which they have RSVP’d). Others believe that, by virtue of the fact that they are mothers and have a blog—period—they are deserving of, and indeed entitled to, an array of perks and privileges. They will complain across all social media channels if their experience is less than what they consider perfect. It is these bloggers—the irresponsible ones—who give the whole social media mom space a nasty name.
Fortunately, there remains a pool of real professionals, many of whom in a former life (or also in this one) are themselves marketers. When it comes to brands recognizing and rewarding bloggers with business opportunities, these moms’ names will be mentioned over and over again.
Brands and agencies must understand that working in an ongoing manner with women who can partner with them in a professional way to achieve business goals will be more effective than the increasingly common mass outreach to every mom blogger in the universe. The cream will eventually rise to the top, and the rest will simply curdle.
Stephanie Azzarone is president of Child’s Play Communications, which specializes in PR targeted to moms. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.